4 Easy Steps for Running an Email Re-Engagement Campaign

September 25, 2017

whole brain marketing blog author


Posted by Laura Sheptoski

Re-engagement email campaign.jpg

Believe it or not, about a quarter of the contacts that marketers work so hard to attract and add to their lists will ultimately become unengaged — like death or paying taxes, it’s inevitable.

So, what’s a marketer to do when this happens? How do you attempt to win back contacts who’ve gone dark — contacts who were once so eager to receive communications from your organization? Running a re-engagement campaign allows you to target your unengaged contacts, giving them the opportunity to make their way back into your nurturing sequence.

What defines an unengaged contact?

If you’re using HubSpot for marketing automation, you likely noticed that they started including an option to exclude contacts who are no longer engaged from email sends earlier in 2017. The criteria to make it onto HubSpot’s default exclusion list is that a contact has not opened or clicked any of the past 11 emails they were sent, but there’s no official definition for what really qualifies someone as unengaged.

Why you should focus on re-engaging old contacts

Inbound marketers are busy. From creating content to managing various platforms to digging into the analytics of how content is performing, there’s no shortage of things on your To Do list. It might be tempting to write off unengaged contacts as lost contacts and focus your full efforts on attracting new contacts, but a little TLC can go a long way to reignite the fire for some of your existing contacts.

What makes a re-engagement campaign different

You might be thinking, "Can’t I just send my regular promotional emails to my full list of contacts and just hope that some of the unengaged contacts will be interested once again?" Using a well-planned, thoughtful re-engagement campaign is the way to go, because it allows you to target your list of unengaged contacts and tailor your messaging to the specific situation: that they’re no longer showing interest in your offers and you’d like the chance to win them back.

Keeping those unengaged contacts as part of your master send list will also cause more harm than good: it’ll skew your open and click-through rates and it could even affect your deliverability if recipients choose to mark you as spam.

Running a re-engagement campaign doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here are four easy steps to run your own campaign:

1. Define what unengaged contacts means to you

Is it 11 sends, like HubSpot’s default? Is it less? More? Take a look at your email metrics from the past 30, 60, 90 and 120 days. Have you noticed any steep drop-offs in engagement in a given period of time? However you define it, create a dedicated list of unengaged contacts in your marketing automation software and use it to measure the success of your campaign.

2. Set the parameters for your re-engagement attempts

Will you send just one email, or will there be a cadence of emails to try to win back old contacts? Consider sending an initial email that will really pique the interest of your unengaged list with a compelling content offer included, and following up with a second email a week or so later for those contacts who opened but didn’t click on the content offer. For those contacts who didn’t open either email, you could follow up with an email simply encouraging them to update their subscription preferences so you can be sure you’re providing them with the content that matters most to them.

3. Carefully plan out what your initial re-engagement email will look like

This is an important step, since there’s a lot riding on the initial re-engagement email. You’ll want your email to have some personality to make it stand out in a contact’s inbox and give them extra motivation to open it. A catchy subject line will be key here. Think about what you’ll include in the email message itself. Perhaps you’ll share an important industry statistic or insight that your contacts shouldn’t miss out on, or a piece of content that’s resonated with others on your content list that your unengaged contacts may also want to access.

4. Add re-engaged contacts to your regular communications

According to MailChimp, the best re-engagement campaigns will win back about 10% of unengaged contacts. Just be sure to enroll re-engaged contacts in your appropriate nurturing workflows, based on their lifecycle stage, industry, or other qualifying information, and give contacts regular touch points to keep them interested and engaged in what you have to say.

Losing a quarter of the contacts you work so hard to attract each year might seem discouraging, but regularly running re-engagement campaigns a few times each year can help you win back some of those contacts, allowing you to continue sharing your content to nurture those contacts throughout their buying journeys!

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Topics: Inbound Marketing



whole brain marketing blog author
Written by Laura Sheptoski

Laura is a detail-oriented consultant and project manager, with a background in public relations, social media engagement, and client content creation. Prior to her time at Weidert Group, Laura managed PR for an industrial services company, and maintains a strong focus on earned media within our inbound marketing programs.

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